My Photo


  • Michael Moorcock
    "a genuine philosophy for the 21st century"
  • Mary Midgley
    "this matters - read it!"
  • Kendall Walton
    "wonderfully refreshing and inventive"


Game Design

Blog powered by Typepad

« Hummingbirds & Groundhogs | Main | Play with Fire on Bytten »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Intriguing... looking forward to this campaign. Especially since my own ethical 'camp' from the article and my background are notably similar to yours.

This should be entertaining. I fall exactly into the referenced camp of ethical nihilists: "Ethical nihilism or moral nihilism rejects the possibility of absolute moral or ethical values. Instead, good and evil are nebulous, and values addressing such are the product of nothing more than social and emotive pressures." (from your link).

Nevertheless, I am extremely interested in the (I posit) relative moral and ethical systems that spontaneously appear in human groups as they self-organise into societies. The long-lived ones tend to have remarkably similar features, and I have considerable sympathy with (for example) the teachings attributed to Jesus on how to live as a member of a productive society (note the nice distinction between this and living as a productive member of a society). Could it be that in order to have a long-lived society, certain features are required?

Does this mean you're not interested in what I have to say on the topic? :-)

Rik: welcome aboard! I think we're going to have fun with this one. :)

Peter: I should have checked that link more carefully... :) That sounds to me to be a description of cultural relativism, not what I would consider ethical nihilism. An ethical nihilist in my book denies that ethics are a meaningful area for discussion on account of cultural relativism. As it says at the start of that link: "Nihilism is the belief that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated."

But believing that ethical values are culturally rooted is not the same as saying they are baseless. A culture is a base for values, after all, even if it is a relative base.

Ethics can deal with the good (good and evil) but can also deal with the right, which need not be connected to the good. If you believe that some behaviours are right or wrong, even if only in a relative context, that does not make you a nihilist in my book. Relativism and nihilism are disjunct propositions as far as I am concerned.

A nihilist in the context I mean considers ethics *pointless*, not merely relative.

I hope to show almost immediately that all ethics are relative, but this does not in any way render them irrelevant. ;)

So if I am right that you are a relativist and not a nihilist, then I am very interested in what you have to say. But if you truly believe that ethics are pointless, and not merely relative... well, at the very least, I cannot square this with my prior knowledge of you. ;)

Best wishes!

Looking forward to this!
As it turns out, my own PhD was on the ethics of computer games, so I hope I can be somewhat active.
As for my school, I am a weird blend of Virtue Ethicist and Information Ethicist. I prefer just "moral being", though ...

I consider myself a relativist, and was rather surprised to see that definition.

"If you believe that some behaviours are right or wrong, even if only in a relative context, that does not make you a nihilist in my book."

Ah. Right and wrong are trigger words for me. I believe that some individual acts are Bloody Stupid for that individual, but that's not the same as a "wrong" in the way it seems to be used by convention. Then again, I rather suspect this is one of the areas we'll be discussing, or at least passing pointers to.

Miguel: I'm excited to find a Virtue Ethicist! :) It is out of fashion in philosophical circles, but it seems like an interesting position to me. If you have a book you recommend on the subject, I would welcome it!

Peter: "Bloody Stupid" is surely analagous to "wrong" if the criteria for your ethics is sensible behaviour? ;)

I hope to review my criteria for ethics during the campaign, as it's becoming unpleasantly clear that I have (at least) double standards in some areas - not least that I have an allergic reaction to "wrong", even with a small "w", but that I'm fighting shy of finding any other term that can be used. It's odd; in your terms, I suspect I have in the past played in a high-stakes language game where I then found out that the meanings other players ascribed to "right" and "wrong" (also "good" and "evil") were not those I ascribe, and I got bitten rather hard as a result. Wish I knew when it happened, I might be able to do something to reduce the allergy!

In the mean time, I'm going to bow out of this area until the campaign proper starts, and try to work out how to manage my response to these terms.

(wanders off, looking bemused, shaking his head and muttering under his breath)

Here's another veteran signing up for a second campaign--watch out! :)

Glad to hear you've got a place and will be commencing with the move--after you've settled in, I'd love to be able to pay you a visit in your new home. I ended up cutting the European leg of my trip short and so I'm home in Illinois now, not terribly far from Kentucky.

Hey Jack! Welcome back to the States! Let me crawl out from under the chaos and then we'll see what we can do about a visit. But it's one more State southwards, I'm afraid, in Tennessee. :) Best wishes!

It seems to me we need to start 'playing the campaign' before we throw our hats in the ring, as we should, if playing a game, rightly all play by the same rules. And by way of Huizinga (absolutely binding rules) and Wittgenstein (language defined by use), our first rules should be the language in use.

So Chris, how shall we define 'ethics'?

Well you'll have to wait until May 17th for such things, I'm afraid. Only two weeks now... ;)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)